Options available for wearable lightshow


I’m looking for advice on what my options are for a project. I currently perform music with a light show that is programmed via DMX and therefore synced up with my music depending on the sections etc.

I want to take this concept a step further as the musical persona is meant to be futuristic and verging on a visual spectacle. I have 3 dancers who are meant to be cyborgs. I am getting costumes made, one for myself and 3x another design for the dancers.

Essentially, I would like to have some form of lighting that interacts with the music that is part of our costumes and makes the show more interesting and unique. I want it to look sleek and professional and not DIY.

My costume and that of the dancers will be slightly different so I’ll call mine costume A and theirs costume B.

Costume A will have lights sewn into the pants and a visual element on the chest which will be attached with velcro or something similar.

Costume B will just have lights sewn in.

At the moment I’m mostly concerned with making sure costume A is possible as the garment itself will be made in the next week.

Costume A:

Either the lights or the chest piece will preferably respond to the music as I have done with my DMX set up. The lights will most likely be red EL wires or neopixel strips but I’m open to other options. I saw that perhaps it is best to use LED strips, nodes or bulbs in conjunction with optical fibres for a more flexible set up. I am not even sure what possibilities are available regarding the wires concerning mapping them to music. It would be great to control colour, dimness/brightnesss, strobe or other if possible- what are my options here? Also, I don’t know if it’s possible to program them in advance in sync with the music. If not, would I need someone else “VJing” in real time using a wireless radio transmitter such as the ADA3071?

If the wire isn’t a great option, I’m open to some sort of flowing option or similar for the wires and want to figure out the best way to program the chest piece either live and wirelessly or prior to the gig. I’m sure this will look great if possible but may be much too complex to begin with for me. What I was considering for the chest piece was using something like a neopixel neomatrix display in conjunction with some sort of diffusion panel to light up a box that would sit on my chest. The shape of the box is similar to that of a coffin and would be detachable from the fabric using velcro so that the fabric could be washed. I’m not super sure how to make the box, or what materials (perspex or similar?) to use or if it would still be safe to “wear”. It would probably house the power supply etc. within the box somewhere. What inspired this concept is something like the infinity mirror project using LEDs crossed with a Tony Stark type chest piece but on a larger scale. Something futuristic! Is this even possible?

The costumes need to be washable, safe to wear, and allow for some movement and sweat/humidity in the room.

I’d be happy to settle with a simple costume to start, say just choosing the best options for programmable lighting…

A basic design of costume A can be found on the attached image (we are using the colours in the top left mockup):

Some various inspirations for similar things here:

Head piece in this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmlmOk4ubcU&ab_channel=JamiroquaiVEVO

Changing coloured costume - https://learn.adafruit.com/Disco-Band-Camp-Jacket/prep

Cortana costume - https://learn.adafruit.com/neopixel-led-cortana-costume

Thanks so much in advance for any help! I tried to make this detailed but I am happy to further elaborate on anything. Any suggestions or ideas are appreciate as I’m new to this stuff.


Hi Thibaud,

Yes, absolutely this can be done via DMX. You will need some programming experience. The el wire will work, however, in terms of synchronising it to the music via DMX it might be a challenge. You would need a relay to flick the wire on and off as you can’t really adjust the inverter easily. Here is a handy guide on getting DMX to work with an arduino:

If you need lights that fade with the music you will probably have to go with LEDs.

1 Like

Hi Thibaud,

Sounds like an amazing project!

Just to make sure we’re on the same page, were you looking to using the DMX cable to send audio through to the suits?

In regards to the response to the music are you looking for something that is frequency based? There are a couple of avenues for this we can explore. (Frequency analysis via Fourier Transform or using an IC to do the thinking ).

For materials, any light plastic sheeting at Bunnings should work very well.

Controlling the LED’s via a PWM signal is quite achievable, see this post by Adafruit, https://learn.adafruit.com/rgb-led-strips/usage

Let us know if you have any other questions!